Guest Post by Megan Wild
While many dream of ditching the daily commute in favor of working from a home, an at-home office can create its own challenges. Noise both inside and out can result in distractions that disrupt concentration and kill your productivity.
However, it is possible to be productive from your home office. Here are seven simple tricks that can help minimize noise distractions:
- Move Your Furniture
Your furniture layout can have an impact on how noise enters the room. If your office has a sofa, place it against the wall facing the principal source of noise. Large padded furniture like plush fabric sofas and chairs with big fluffy throw pillows will help absorb sound.
Putting distance between you and the clamor will also make your room quieter. Position your desk on the wall farthest from the noise source with as many furnishings as possible in between.
- Get a Rug
Sometimes the pitter patter of little feet can be downright disruptive — especially as those little feet grow and begin to sound more like the rumble of a herd of elephants. Rugs can go a long way toward dampening the sound of your mob.
If your office isn’t carpeted, a heavy-cut pile rug on top of a sound-absorbing pad is a good way to soak up the noise. For small areas, try using a yoga mat as a pad.
Using rugs in other areas of your home will help as well. Runners in the hall or interlocking rubber floors in a play room will help dampen noise at the source.
- Add a Door Sweep
If replacing your current office door with a heavy, solid core door isn’t an option, try adding a door sweep. A door sweep is installed at the bottom of the door and creates an inexpensive way to block sounds that would otherwise sneak in under the door.
Door sweeps even come in a stick-on version, so you don’t have to have any DIY skills to install them.
- Pad Your Walls
Depending on your preferences and your budget, there are several ways to add sound dampening to your walls.
Acoustical ceiling and wall paint is a great way to brighten your office and add a barrier of sound absorption as well. Covering a shared wall with a heavy material or mass-loaded vinyl curtain is another option if that’s something you can live with.
If you have some spare cash and want an effective solution that is attractive as well, check out some acoustical art panels. These unique panels are available in custom sizes and let you add your own design or photos, making your sound barrier also a work of art.
- Hang Some Drapes
If your noise issues originate from outside your home, you may want to look at your windows. Heavy drapery materials such as wool or velvet can provide excellent sound absorption. If you can find drapes with a mass-loaded vinyl lining, this will further enhance their effectiveness.
If you really can’t stand the thought of blocking light along with the sound, though, there are still options. A lab in Switzerland has created a fabric of modified polyester that lets in natural light while still absorbing sound.
- Apply Acoustical Caulk
Another way to upgrade your windows is to caulk the edges with acoustical caulk. This type of caulking remains flexible for a more durable and effective seal. It can be used anywhere there is a crack or seam to keep out unwanted sound.
- Add More Noise
As counterintuitive as this sounds, adding white noise or certain kinds of music to your workspace can heighten your concentration, help block other sounds and actually make you more productive. Classical music and ambient sounds ranked high on the production-boosting list, and simple white sound such as fans or other monotonous tones help lessen distractions.
Keep in mind, that if the noise is temporary, it may be worth relocating to a cafe for a day or two. Long-term construction sites are notorious for causing disruption, and can be so loud that the workers are required to wear ear protection to save their hearing. If that’s the case, you may want to consider investing in some heavy-duty soundproofing materials.
Use these ideas to adjust for moderate noise, and you’ll have a much easier time concentrating on your work. Reducing sound in a room requires surfaces that absorb noise. The denser the material between you and the noise, the better it is absorbed. While these tricks may not give you a totally soundproof sanctuary, every little bit helps when your concentration — and sanity — are on the line.
Megan Wild is a writer who loves to write about home improvement and the ways you can design a home to fit your every need. You can read more of her ideas and tips on her blog, Your Wild Home.
Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
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